After a day of anonymously sourced reports about what Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said to Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) in a December 2018 tête-à-tête, everyone is now on the record. "I thought a woman could win; he disagreed," Warren said in a statement released late on Monday. "I have no interest in discussing this private meeting any further because Bernie and I have far more in common than our differences in punditry."
Despite Warren's preferences, both she and Sanders will undoubtedly be asked to rehash what they discussed in that two-hour meeting at Tuesday's Democratic presidential debate in Des Moines, the last debate before the Iowa caucuses on Feb. 3.
Earlier Monday, Sanders called a CNN report that he'd told Warren a woman couldn't be elected in 2020 "ludicrous," recalling, "What I did say that night was that Donald Trump is a sexist, a racist and a liar who would weaponize whatever he could." Sanders campaign manager Faiz Shakir had predicted that if Warren did release a statement, she would say the report "is not true, that is a lie."
The open acrimony between the two progressive 2020 candidates started with a Politico report Sunday detailing how Sanders staffers are trying to flip Warren-leaning voters by suggesting she's the candidate of "highly educated, more affluent people" who will vote for the Democrats anyway. Warren said she was "disappointed" that Sanders is "sending his volunteers out to trash me," and Sanders said he did not approve the messaging and has never personally attacked his friend Warren.
Some progressives are getting worried about the escalation hurting both candidates. "This looks like a desperate attempt to fracture a coalition of the candidates that represent the most popular ideas among working people," said Sara Nelson, president of the Association of Flight Attendants union.